Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Maldives, Lanka join India’s maritime outreach drive

Maldives and Sri Lanka are now the core of India's maritime outreach into the Indian Ocean, an outcome that has been cemented after two years of hard work and coordination between the three countries.

In a meeting in Colombo on Monday, NSA, Shivshankar Menon, Mohammed Nazim, defence minister of Maldives and Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka laid down the framework of the trilateral grouping. Through the plethora of joint exercises and information sharing decisions, it is also clear that notwithstanding China's growing ingress into Sri lanka and Maldives, India has continued to play a primary role in their security outlook. By integrating them closer into its security matrix, India is trying to overcome the bilateral hiccups that sometimes bedevil these relationships.

The three NSAs met for the second time in Colombo for the Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security and decided to expand the group to include other countries as well. India would be looking at some of its allies on the eastern seaboard of Africa, or even Oman as the next tier of countries.

MEA officials said the three countries signed an outcome document outlining further collaborative measures in the areas like -- Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); strengthening coordination of maritime Search and Rescue (SAR); promoting marine oil pollution response cooperation; expanding 'DOSTI' (friendship) exercises; sharing of information on illegal maritime activities; and piracy.

India, Maldives and Sri Lanka have also agreed to undertake joint surveillance of exclusive economic zones -- which would have additional benefits from commerce to security as well as energy exploration.

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